Unformatted text preview: with me to-night to keep me warm. I thank you, Hamilton, and I approve Your fealty to the aggregated greatness Of him you lean on while he leans on you. HAMILTON This easy phrasing is a game of yours That you may win to lose. I beg your pardon, But you that have the sight will not employ The will to see with it. If you did so, There might be fewer ditches dug for others In your perspective; and there might be fewer Contemporary motes of prejudice Between you and the man who made the dust. Call him a genius or a gentleman, A prophet or a builder, or what not, But hold your disposition off the balance, And weigh him in the light. Once (I believe I tell you nothing new to your surmise, Or to the tongues of towns and villages) I nourished with an adolescent fancy -- Surely forgivable to you, my friend -- An innocent and amiable conviction That I was, by the grace of honest fortune, A savior at his elbow through the war, Where I might have observed, more than I did, Patience and wholesome passion. I was there, And for such honor I gave nothing worse Than some advice at which he may have smiled. I must have given a modicum besides, Or the rough interval between those days And these would never have made for me my friends, Or enemies. I should be something somewhere -- I say not what -but I should not be here If he had not been there. Possibly, too, You might not -- or that Quaker with his cane. BURR Possibly, too, I should. When the Almighty Rides a white horse, I fancy we shall know it. HAMILTON It was a man, Burr, that was in my mind; No god, or ghost, or demon - only a man: A man whose occupation is the need Of those who would not feel it if it bit them; And one who shapes an age while he endures The
24 The Three Taverns A Book of Poems By Edwin Arlington Robinson pin pricks of inferiorities; A cautious man, because he is but one; A lonely man, because he is a thousand. No marvel you are slow to find in him The genius that is one spark or is nothing: His genius is a flame that he must hold So far above the common heads of men That they may view him only through the mist Of their defect, and wonder what he is. It seems to me the mystery that is in him That makes him only more to me a man Than any other I have ever known. BURR I grant you that his worship is a man. I'm not so much at home with mysteries, May be, as you -- so leave him with his fire: God knows that I shall never put it out. He has not made a cripple of himself In his pursuit of me, though I have heard His condescension honors me with parts. Parts make a whole, if we've enough of them; And once I figured a sufficiency To be at least an atom in the annals Of your republic. But I must have erred. HAMILTON You smile as if your spirit lived at ease With error. I should not have named it so, Failing assent from you; nor, if I did, Should I be so complacent in my skill To comb the tangled language of the people As to be sure of anything in these days. Put that much in account with modesty. BURR What i...
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- Spring '03
- The Bible, 2007 singles, Edwin Arlington Robinson